Table of Contents
- Initial Reading
- Deuteronomy, and the Law
- New Testament
- Faith, God’s Presence, and Sin
- Abraham, Sarah, and Abimelech
- Important Notice
“And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that Man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate, his like. And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim had formed every animal of the field and all fowl of the heavens, and brought [them] to Man, to see what he would call them; and whatever Man called each living soul, that was its name. And Man gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but as for Adam, he found no helpmate, his like. And Jehovah Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon Man; and he slept. And he took one of his ribs and closed up flesh in its stead. And Jehovah Elohim built the rib that he had taken from Man into a woman; and brought her to Man. And Man said, This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: this shall be called Woman, because this was taken out of a man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, Man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
“Wives, [submit yourselves] to your own husbands, as to the Lord, for a husband is head of the wife, as also the Christ [is] head of the assembly. He [is] Saviour of the body. But even as the assembly is subjected to the Christ, so also wives to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your own wives, even as the Christ also loved the assembly, and has delivered himself up for it, in order that he might sanctify it, purifying [it] by the washing of water by [the] word, that he might present the assembly to himself glorious, having no spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things; but that it might be holy and blameless. So ought men also to love their own wives as their own bodies: he that loves his own wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as also the Christ the assembly: for we are members of his body; [we are of his flesh, and of his bones.] Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be united to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh. This mystery is great, but I speak as to Christ, and as to the assembly. But ye also, every one of you, let each so love his own wife as himself; but as to the wife [I speak] that she may fear the husband.”
“God is showing us here in the simplest and the most straightforward of language that when a man and a woman are brought together, according to God’s order, there is one man — there is one wife — and they are joined together. And the marital relationship reflects that joining together. It is God’s ordering. Now when we turn over to Ephesians 5, we find that there brings before us the thought that He has used the account given to us, of Adam and Eve, to reflect to our minds the relationship of Christ and the Church.
God guards this relationship carefully because it reflects Christ and the Church.
Genesis 4:19 = “And Lemech took two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the second, Zillah.”
Lemech = 7th from Adam through Cain’s line = 7 being the completion of a course. This was a corruption of God’s original order. He had two (not one) wives.
Compare with Enoch (7th from Seth), who walked with (and spoke for) God.
Deuteronomy, and the Law
Deuteronomy 21:15 = “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and one hated…” = God never told anyone to take more than one wife, but there was a provision in the law for this occurrence.
Deuteronomy 22:13-14, 20-22, 28-29 = The law of Moses gave a considerably different rule for the man than for the woman. God was against fornication. The woman (21st verse) was stoned to death. If a man trespassed, he was allowed to simply pay a sum of money if it were with an unmarried woman. The woman was kept as his wife.
Deuteronomy 24:1-2, 21:10-14 = Under the law of Moses, provision was made for a man “to rid” himself of a wife easily. She could go and be another man’s wife.
Malachi 2:15-17 = “…Take heed then to your spirit, and let none deal unfaithfully against the wife of his youth, (for I hate putting away, saith Jehovah the God of Israel;) and he covereth with violence his garment, saith Jehovah of hosts: take heed then to your spirit, that ye deal not unfaithfully. Ye have wearied Jehovah with your words, and ye say, Wherein have we wearied [him]? In that ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of Jehovah, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”
In the last book of the OT, we find that despite the law of Moses, God hates “putting away“!
“It has been said too, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a letter of divorce. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except for cause of fornication, makes her commit adultery, and whosoever marries one that is put away commits adultery.
1 Corinthians 10:8
“Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed fornication, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.”
1 Corinthians 6:18
“Flee fornication. Every sin which a man may practise is without the body, but he that commits fornication sins against his own body”
“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: to abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what is strangled, and from fornication; keeping yourselves from which ye will do well. Farewell.”
Fornication = a general term that God uses to cover the sin of immoral relations between people who are not married to each other; fornication includes adultery
Adultery = the sin of immoral relations by a married person with someone who is not their wife or their husband
The Lord says, if a man puts a way his wife, if he divorces his wife (except for the cause of fornication), he makes her commit adultery, because in God’s eyes she is still married to her husband. This differs with what we had been reading concerning what was permissible under the Mosaic law.
1 Cor. 6:15-18 = “Do ye not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then, taking the members of the Christ, make [them] members of a harlot? Far be the thought. Do ye not know that he [that is] joined to the harlot is one body? for the two, he says, shall be one flesh. But he that [is] joined to the Lord is one Spirit.”
“…And whosoever marries one that is put away commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32)
Also, read Galatians 6:7-9 = “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap. For he that sows to his own flesh, shall reap corruption from the flesh; but he that sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit shall reap eternal life: but let us not lose heart in doing good; for in due time, if we do not faint, we shall reap.”
You cannot sin and reap a benefit from that.
If the woman had been put away by her husband (or the contrary as well) for any other reason other than fornication, she is not free — she is still married. If she remarries, she commits adultery. If someone marries her, they commit adultery.
If she has been put away for fornication, she still should not remarry because she cannot benefit from having sinned – there is no gain when sin is the origin. “For he that sows to his own flesh, shall reap corruption from the flesh.” The husband (innocent party) is free to marry in this case if he chooses to get a divorce; although, God never directs one to get a divorce (as we saw in Malachi 2).
“From the beginning, it was not so” = When the Lord Jesus took exception here to what Moses had allowed, he was taking them back to the beginning — He was not taking them to something that was new, but something old — right back to the beginning and how God had set up the marriage relationship at the beginning.
Mark 10:11-12 = What applies to the man now in what Jesus is teaching here, applies to the woman. This also differs from the Mosaic system, which had different rules for the man and the woman. Note: the exception of fornication is not given here in Mark as it was in Matthew.
“…if she be to another man”
This provides “the only release” of a guilty partner in a divorce. If one has been put away for fornication, she remains bound to her first husband. This tie remains as long as her husband lives. The opposite case is also true, man or woman. “…So long as he liveth.”
1 Corinthians 7:10-16
Spouses should not leave, but if it is done, they are to remain unmarried or reconcile.
A believer with an unbeliever = the believer is enjoined to never put away the unbeliever and to not leave. If the unbeliever leaves and departs (or if the believer refuses to remain), they are permitted. But it is enjoined NOT to do it. “For what knowest thou, O wife, if thou shalt save thy husband? or what knowest thou, O husband, if thou shalt save thy wife?” God hates putting away.
Faith, the Presence of God, and Sin (Romans 14:23 and Hebrews 4:12-13)
Faith means we walk in the presence of God. Faith introduces us into the presence of God, and we are to walk consciously as being in His presence. What is consistent with the presence of God is given to us in the word of God. So for sin, we go to the word of God — it tells us what sin is.
1 John 3 – “Sin is lawlessness”
The Assembly (i.e., the Church), in binding and loosing (Matthew 18), is not to look at sin as not being sin, or vice versa. We should be governed by the Word of God.
- God has made it clear in His word that he established marriage as a life-long institution.
- God has also shown us that man corrupted his order with multiple wives.
- God bore with them and allowed provisions in the law because of the hardness of their hearts.
- When the Lord Jesus came, he took them back to the beginning. He showed only one exception in Matthew, which was fornication. With this exception, divorce was permitted but not encouraged.
- The guilty party is not free, and they never become free as long as the partner remains alive.
- A specific exception was added for a believer married to an unbeliever. Permission for divorce is given if the unbeliever departs.
- It is clear that God’s standard for sin — what God has given to us for determining sin (and its character) — is proved to us by His Word, and we ought to be subject to it.
“Adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore is minded to be [the] friend of the world is constituted enemy of God.”
“…But if the husband should die, she is clear from the law of the husband: so then, the husband being alive, she shall be called an adulteress if she be to another man; but if the husband should die, she is free from the law, so as not to be an adulteress, though she be to another man.”
The charge of adultery is not a “one instant” charge. The charge of adultery remains. James is calling them “adulteresses” because the friendship with the world was going on — they were still in that relationship, and consequently they had the charge of adultery. Romans 7 shows us clearly that the only way the charge can be lifted is by the death of the spouse.
“Let every soul be subject to the authorities that are above [him]. For there is no authority except from God; and those that exist are set up by God.”
1 Peter 2:13
“Be in subjection [therefore] to every human institution for the Lord’s sake; whether to [the] king as supreme”
“For this cause I also exercise [myself] to have in everything a conscience without offence towards God and men”
We are subject to the higher powers and the ordinances (law of the land). The only time we are justified in disobeying the law of the land is when we can point clearly to a higher authority that directs our course. Then, we must say, like the apostle, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
In today’s society, divorce is granted on the slightest of ground. And sadly we find professing Christians who fall in with the practice of the world, and obtain a divorce — because of incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, and the list goes on.
Abraham, Sarah, and Abimelech (Genesis 20:2-9)
“…in the integrity of my heart and in the innocency of my hands”
Abimelech feared God, and He was preserved. God can keep you from a life of sorrow and heartache if you’re cast upon Him.
This message was edited, although minutely, due to a misunderstanding surrounding a letter of brother J. N. Darby’s. There is a statement that has been taken out of context by many to mean that a person, having entered an adulterous relationship before conversion, is absolved of such adultery after believing in Christ. Biblically, marriage is an institution that takes into account both the unconverted and the converted. He does not have two different standards for each. The relationship itself does not disappear after conversion.
This is the line from J.N.D’s Letters, Vol. 2, page 131:
“If all had passed before conversion, I should take it as I found it.”
If this is not clear, it is recommended for the Bible scholar to consider a further treatise on this, which can be accessed below.